Doha (AFP) – Former Italy and Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola has been sacked as coach of Al-Arabi, a spokesman for the Qatari Stars League side said on Monday.
Zola, who lasted just one season in Qatar, will be replaced by veteran Uruguayan coach, Gerardo Pelusso.
“Our president has said he is going to change the coach,” the spokesman for Al-Arabi told AFP.
Asked if Zola, who signed a two-year contract with the Doha-based club in July 2015, had been sacked, the spokesman replied: “Yes.”
Despite being one of the biggest names in the Qatari league, the Italian, who celebrates his 50th birthday next week, appears to have paid the price for Al-Arabi’s poor league form.
The club finished eighth in the 14-team league, exactly the same position and with the same number of points, 35, as the previous season.
The decision to replace Zola comes after the club installed a new president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Jabr Al-Thani.
Managerial changes are common at Al-Arabi and Zola was the 12th coach at the club in just the past six years.
Previous Al-Arabi coaches included Zola’s former Chelsea teammate Dan Petrescu and Germany’s Uli Stielike.
Zola, who was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player by fans after almost seven years at the London club, has been linked to a return in England.
Recent media reports have claimed that he could become the next manager at former European champions, Nottingham Forest.
Al-Arabi will be the 22nd club for Pelusso as coach.
The 62-year-old Uruguayan has previously been in charge of the Paraguayan national team and was most recently the coach of Colombian side, Santa Fe.
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